Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Geo-Everything -- 3rd Horizon Report 2009 Trend

The third major trend identified by the Horizon Report 2009 (http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2009-Horizon-Report.pdf) that is expected to effect higher education is “Geo-Everything.” The horizon timeline for this trend is 2-3 year “out.” The Horizon Report’s opening statement on this trend follows:

Everything on the Earth’s surface has a location that can be expressed with just two coordinates. Using the new classes of geolocation tools, it is very easy to determine and capture the exact location of physical objects — as well as capturing the location where digital media such as photographs and video are taken. The other side of this coin is that it is also becoming easier to work with the geolocative data thus captured: it can be plotted on maps; combined with data about other events, objects, or people; graphed; charted; or manipulated in myriad ways. Devices we commonly carry with us increasingly have the ability to know where they (and, consequently, we) are, and to record our coordinates as we take photographs, talk to friends, or post updates to social networking websites. The “everything” in geo-everything is what makes this group of technologies interesting, and what will make them so much a part of our lives — geolocation, geotagging, and location-aware devices are already very nearly everywhere. Geo-coded data (phones, cameras)

In essence geotagging is already here; its full application is yet to be seen, but already

  • Many camera images are geo-tagged when the image is captured so you can record and determine the exact location where the images originated.

  • It’s no longer a time-consuming effort to geo-tag images (as was the case in the past) with the images’ physical location; it’s now largely automatic for cameras and mobiles already on the market and in use.
  • A number of web-based applications exist that accept geo-tagged data and respond based on the user’s current location. One example is http://outside.in/radar/welcome which displays local news, a Google map of the location, instant alerts, blog posts and more. Buzzd.com (http://buzzd.com) is another example of what the site self-describes as “the mobile key to your city.”

Educational uses of geotagging are already emerging, such as Rachel Leow’s tagging of sites from The Travels of Marco Polo using images from Google Maps, Google Images, Wikipedia and the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (see http://idlethink.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/indulgence-sin/).

For a fitness class, Community Walk (http://www.communitywalk.com) enables the user to create a jogging or walking route using geotagged data (latitude and longitude), by clicking on a map location (for each turn) or by entering addresses. Each custom map can be annotated with geotagged data and photos stored (pulled from) Flickr.com.

For fine art or photography classes, PaintMap.com (http://paintmap.com) can be used to indicate the physical location of the subject of a work of art. Imagine mapping the physical location of an end-of-the-semester photography class’ exhibits of best works or creating a geotagged map of the physical locations of all of Michelangelo’s works.

In summary, when the physical location of an object or individual adds to the instructional value of a discipline, geotagging may be a future educational trend that can enhance the learning process.

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